Paige Railey: The battle within

Published on September 12th, 2019

American Paige Railey, among the most accomplished US sailors, is an example of perseverance. While her trophy case is overflowing, it lacks an Olympic medal, and now at 32 years, she’s been focused on Tokyo 2020 Games as her fourth campaign to fulfill that goal.

In our January 2019 interview with Paige, it appeared the stars were finally lined up for this star-crossed athlete, but since then her progress has been mixed, and after struggling last month at the official Sailing test event for Tokyo 2020, we learned she’s been beset with health issues.

As only Paige can, she revealed September 11 her battle within:

Olympian or sick? Who says you can’t be both. I’ve been chronically ill my whole life, but the last six years things have gone downhill. 2017 saw the worst of it all and it required me to begin a road of endless doctors, testing, needles, machines, laying helplessly on examine tables and countless days wasted being ill. I thought 2018 was a start of a bright future, but unfortunately, I was wrong and I’ve watched my body and health deteriorate again.

I have competed the majority of the events unable to breathe, get out of bed, in pain, weak and struggling to make it on an upwind. It’s taken pure mental strength to get through it and I’ve never felt pain and suffering like I’ve known these past few years. I’ve had moments of pure hopelessness because doctors were so puzzled. There’s been tears, anger, and disappointment, but I never stopped putting one foot in front of the other.

So what happened?

I have an immune system that struggled to fight infection (deficiency) and it also attacked my vascular system (autoimmune). My illness is extremely rare so I’ve had a team of doctors working with me. Today, I saw a world renowned doctor (thanks to my amazing twin who got me the appointment) who specializes with my autoimmune. I am so thankful for this small step and hope this doctor has given me.

So why do I write this post?

I’m going to show a different road to the Olympics. I hope to inspire people out there with diseases, syndromes, and any setbacks in life to go after dreams and not let it hold them back. Currently I’m weak physically (can’t do one pull up or even squat my body weight), underweight, my lungs have been through hell (I have a CT scan and a bronchoscopy next week), and I have six months to get it together for the next US Olympic Trials Event.

So to hell with being secretive about my health…it’s time to show the truth, and even if we are born with setbacks, I want to show that we can do what everyone else can.

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